Woodland home for sale with a book full of happy memories

Far Row is in the middle of a wood in Pool-in-Wharfedale
Far Row is in the middle of a wood in Pool-in-Wharfedale
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It took many years and a whole lot of love to turn an old cottage into an enchanting woodland hideaway. Now the property is up for sale. Sharon Dale reports.

It’s rare for anyone to stay in their first home for longer than a few years but Karen and Tony van de Bospoort have held onto theirs since falling in love with it in 1981. Even though the For Sale sign has finally gone up, the thought of downsizing and leaving their woodland hideaway is upsetting.

The sitting room is in a recently extended part of the property that blends with the rest of the cottage thanks to reclaimed beams and a stone fireplace

The sitting room is in a recently extended part of the property that blends with the rest of the cottage thanks to reclaimed beams and a stone fireplace

“I can’t bear to think about leaving because I know we will never find anything like this again,” says Karen.

The cottage is tucked away down a track just off the A660 in Pool-in-Wharfedale. The road is one of the main routes into Leeds, but the house, the end one of six on Far Row, is a world away from the hustle and bustle.

It is in a dappled clearing by a stream in the middle of a wood that has a rich variety of flora and fauna, including deer, squirrels, foxes, rabbits and birds. The enchanting location captivated the couple when they first viewed the property.

“We’d just got married and were renting a flat in Headingley when we decided to try and buy somewhere. Karen’s mum saw this house advertised in the Yorkshire Post as ‘a cottage in the woods’ and as soon as we saw it we knew we wanted it,” says Tony.

The garden with oak-framed summer house

The garden with oak-framed summer house

The van der Bospoorts, who are both graphic designers, moved in straight away, even though it was damp and cold with no proper bathroom. This period marks the start of Karen’s book “A Tunnel of Leaves”, which is available on Amazon and details the project and her family’s life at Far Row.

“I gave it that title because that’s what it feels like in summer when you drive through the trees to the house and that’s what I remember when I when I first came here. The cottage itself was horrendous inside until we could afford to update it but we were so happy to come home to this place after work,” she says.

With little spare money, the young first-time buyers did much of the renovation themselves in the early days, including stripping out 1970s polystyrene tiles and woodchip wallpaper and exposing original fireplaces.

Their neighbour, Bob, a building site manager, helped them out and it was he who saved them from freezing on their first night at the house. He taught them how to build a fire in the open grate and bank it down so it was still warm in the morning.

The woods have a carpet of bluebells at this time of year

The woods have a carpet of bluebells at this time of year

Later, when Karen was expecting her second child, he helped them design an extension to turn what was a two up two down into a five-bedroom home. The extension, built in 1992, is a remarkable match to the original thanks to the use of reclaimed stone and old beams. The house now has a kitchen, utility room, dining room and living room. On the first floor, there are four bedrooms and two bathrooms, while on the second floor, there is a double bedroom and eaves storage. There’s also gas central heating and a coal burning stove.

The couple, who have two grown-up sons, have continued to pour love and money into the property, which is beautifully decorated. They are unafraid of colour and have used it to great effect painting walls in cosy deep red and sunny yellows. These are full of pictures, some of which come from their travels.

”That’s another reason we love living here. We are a five-minute drive from Leeds-Bradford airport so from touching down to walking through the front door takes 15 minutes,” says Tony, who is adept at DIY and built fitted cupboards and made the sitting room shelves from old scaffolding planks. Karen made the curtains and they splashed out on lighting from Christopher Wray.

Outside, they own about an acre of garden and woodland. The garden has been an ongoing project and includes an oak garden room made by Adam Walker, of Yorkshire Oak Frames.

“Adam was doing some dry stone walling work for us when I came up with design for the summer house and he said he could build one for us. It is now his full-time business,” says Tony.

For anyone wondering what life could be like on Far Row, referred to by the locals as “Dingly Dell”, Karen’s book spells it out. It includes recollections of mini-music festivals for friends and neighbours, building dens and sledging and memories of Christmas card-style scenes of the woods in winter, followed by snowdrops then carpets of daffodils and bluebells.

Karen says: “I wrote the book because I knew that one day we would have to leave and I wanted to put down those memories so we can look back at them and remember just how magical it has been here and how we loved it so utterly.”

*It’s rare for anyone to stay in their first home for longer than a few years but Karen and Tony van de Bospoort have held onto theirs since falling in love with it in 1981. Even though the For Sale sign has finally gone up, the thought of downsizing and leaving their woodland hideaway is upsetting.

“I can’t bear to think about leaving because I know we will never find anything like this again,” says Karen.

The cottage is tucked away down a track just off the A660 in Pool-in-Wharfedale. The road is one of the main routes into Leeds, but the house, the end one of six on Far Row, is a world away from the hustle and bustle.

It is in a dappled clearing by a stream in the middle of a wood that has a rich variety of flora and fauna, including deer, squirrels, foxes, rabbits and birds. The enchanting location captivated the couple when they first viewed the property.

“We’d just got married and were renting a flat in Headingley when we decided to try and buy somewhere. Karen’s mum saw this house advertised in the Yorkshire Post as ‘a cottage in the woods’ and as soon as we saw it we knew we wanted it,” says Tony.

The van der Bospoorts, who are both graphic designers, moved in straight away, even though it was damp and cold with no proper bathroom. This period marks the start of Karen’s book “A Tunnel of Leaves”, which is available on Amazon and details the project and her family’s life at Far Row.

“I gave it that title because that’s what it feels like in summer when you drive through the trees to the house and that’s what I remember when I when I first came here. The cottage itself was horrendous inside until we could afford to update it but we were so happy to come home to this place after work,” she says.

With little spare money, the young first-time buyers did much of the renovation themselves in the early days, including stripping out 1970s polystyrene tiles and woodchip wallpaper and exposing original fireplaces.

Their neighbour, Bob, a building site manager, helped them out and it was he who saved them from freezing on their first night at the house. He taught them how to build a fire in the open grate and bank it down so it was still warm in the morning.

Later, when Karen was expecting her second child, he helped them design an extension to turn what was a two up two down into a five-bedroom home. The extension, built in 1992, is a remarkable match to the original thanks to the use of reclaimed stone and old beams. The house now has a kitchen, utility room, dining room and living room. On the first floor, there are four bedrooms and two bathrooms, while on the second floor, there is a double bedroom and eaves storage. There’s also gas central heating and a coal burning stove.

The couple, who have two grown-up sons, have continued to pour love and money into the property, which is beautifully decorated. They are unafraid of colour and have used it to great effect painting walls in cosy deep red and sunny yellows. These are full of pictures, some of which come from their travels.

”That’s another reason we love living here. We are a five-minute drive from Leeds-Bradford airport so from touching down to walking through the front door takes 15 minutes,” says Tony, who is adept at DIY and built fitted cupboards and made the sitting room shelves from old scaffolding planks. Karen made the curtains and they splashed out on lighting from Christopher Wray.

Outside, they own about an acre of garden and woodland. The garden has been an ongoing project and includes an oak garden room made by Adam Walker, of Yorkshire Oak Frames.

“Adam was doing some dry stone walling work for us when I came up with design for the summer house and he said he could build one for us. It is now his full-time business,” says Tony.

For anyone wondering what life could be like on Far Row, referred to by the locals as “Dingly Dell”, Karen’s book spells it out. It includes recollections of mini-music festivals for friends and neighbours, building dens and sledging and memories of Christmas card-style scenes of the woods in winter, followed by snowdrops then carpets of daffodils and bluebells.

Karen says: “I wrote the book because I knew that one day we would have to leave and I wanted to put down those memories so we can look back at them and remember just how magical it has been here and how we loved it so utterly.”